Siri Paye is a common breakfast item in the Punjab region of present-day Pakistan although variations of it could be found in Central Asian and South Asian countries. The dish originated from the amalgamation of South and Central Asian cuisines and it was adapted to the local cuisines by the Muslim cooks of Lahore, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Dhaka. Soon, it caught on and the nutritional benefits far outweighed the religious differences as it became popular all-over present-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh with people adopting it and varying it with respect to their regional taste preferences, and making it their own.

It is the most wholesome dish to ingest first thing in the morning, especially if one is living in cold, hilly areas. This is why it is more popular in the North-Eastern regions of Pakistan. The aroma from the spices and the filling nature of the hot, steamy, broth combats the incessant shivering during wintery mornings and charges you up for the day ahead. On top of that, the nutritional benefits of this dish are immense as it is filled with calcium, phosphorus, potassium, collagen, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and even various trace elements, minerals and micronutrients from the bones, the joint muscles, ligaments and bone marrow that is absolutely the dish to incorporate in our daily diets. Historically, people used wood or coal as a cooking fuel, and the preparation of this dish would start at night, as the bones and skull would be slow cooked in their own stew overnight until morning arrived. Nowadays, you can bypass all that and cook it in a pressure cooker although, the cleaning of the trotters and skull might be a bit of work which might turn some people away.

Whichever might be the case, you owe it to yourself to try this power-packed dish atleast once in your life and if you’re prepared to do so, here’s the extended recipe for it to get you there

Ingredients:

  • 1 piece of a goat skull, broken in half
  • 6 large-sized goat feet pieces
  • 6 tbsp of wheat flour for rinsing along with water
  • 2/3 cup or 167 ml of neutral vegetable oil (or any preferred oil)
  • 6 onions, thinly-sliced
  • 6 tbsp of freshly ground ginger garlic paste
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 pieces of cloves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 long pepper or pipli
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1 mace
  • 500 grams of homemade yogurt
  • 3 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp, ground cumin seeds
  • 3 tbsp, ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp of basic garam masala powder
  • 6 cubes of papaya
  • Salt, as required

For garnishing:

  • 5 sprigs of fresh coriander, chopped 
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges
  • 1 medium ginger, julienned
  • 4-5 green chilies, slit
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced

Method:

  1. Roast the trotters and the goat skull all around over an open fire to remove any fur that might have come along with the bones.
  2. After removing any visual impurity over fire, add the skull and the trotters to a colander with a bowl underneath, and toss them all with wheat flour.
  3. Rub them with the wheat flour all around and wash them, removing all traces of dirt that might stick to the flour, in the process.
  4. Now take a large, wide stock pot and add oil to it. Put it on high flame.
  5. Once the oil gets hot, add the onions and the ginger garlic paste.
  6. Add the whole spices and papaya pieces and saute them for a while or until the onions are browned.
  7. Add the trotters and the skull and fry them thoroughly so that each piece of bone gets coated.
  8. Mix the ground and powdered spices with the beaten yogurt and add them to the mix.
  9. Once each part of skull and bones get coated in the spice, yogurt and onion base, pour hot water over it and cover and cook for 4 hours over medium low heat. If you’re using a pressure cooker, cook it for 50 minutes. 
  10. Check on the consistency of the curry and tenderness of the meat attached to the bones by removing the lid and modifying the water levels as desired.
  11. Once the oil has separated from the bones and is visible above the gravy, you’re nearing completion. Remove the whole spices, taste for seasoning, add garam masala, and salt to your liking and simmer on low flame.

Siri Paye is meant to be had piping hot. Add the garnishes once you’ve achieved the taste profile you’re going after. Transfer it to a serving dish and enjoy with chapati, roti, naan, or rice.